Some blacks call for reparations

World leaders and Holocaust survivors gathered at the Auschwitz Nazi internment camp Thursday to remember the horrific acts against Jewish people during the Holocaust and to honor the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

Jewish descendants and various other minority groups of people have gained compensation for past maltreatment, yet many blacks are still fighting for reparations for the years of slavery endured by their ancestors.

“American enslavement lasted 265 years, which is 44 times as long as the German orchestrated internment and massacre of Jews. The number of African victims of the slavery exceeds the deaths of the Jewish holocaust victims by the tens of millions,” said Kibibi Tyehimba, a reparations activist in Washington D.C.

Tyehimba is the co-chair of the National Legislative Commission of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America(N’COBRA).

According to, “reparations are resources offered in return for harmful acts committed against a population in an attempt to repair and correct the damage of the past.”

A new law in Chicago, which requires all businesses in the city to research any links it had with the slave trade, led the JP Morgan Chase corporation to declare in mid-January that two of its former banks dealt with slavery.

The company also created a $5 million college scholarship fund for black students in Louisiana where the events took place.

According to, Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, criticized JP Morgan Chase & Co.

“It is imperative that corporations resist the growing calls to pay slave reparations,” Flaherty said.

“Corporations are not legally or morally obligated to pay money just because their 19th century predecessors may have profited from slavery,” Flaherty said.

Mark Thompson, a radio personality on Washington D.C.’s WOL and a nationally recognized expert and activist on reparations said, “The JP Morgan Chase action is a start and I hope it will begin a process where more companies will admit their role in slavery and more resources will be given.”

Various black groups have fought for reparations, but there has not been an official admission by the government of the crimes committed against blacks.

Tyehimba said the United States boycotted the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa where over 160 other nations agreed that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was a crime against humanity.

“Reparations activists are committed to getting the U.S. government to engage in an official discussion about the era of enslavement, which would lead to a commitment ensuring that slavery and the systematic exploitation of a people because of their race can never happen on U.S. shores again,” she said.

Thompson also serves on the national reparations litigation commission of N’COBRA that is preparing a lawsuit against the U.S. government for reparations.

“We’ve been working on it for six years, because it has to be fail safe or the courts will dismiss it,” he said.

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. introduced a bill to study reparations in 1989 and according to, he said he will continue to do so until it’s passed into law.

There are many arguments for and against reparations.

Thompson said he believes that blacks should receive reparations.

“We have never fully recovered from slavery or its vestiges,” Thompson explained.

“How can we heal ourselves, rebuild our communities or be whole if there is not repair?”

African-American history professor David Jackson said reparations should be seriously studied.

“(We deserve reparations because) of the blood sweat and tears African Americans endured during and after slavery.”

There are different views about how blacks should be repaid.

“Black people are not currently prepared for the dispersal of money to individuals, because most of the money would go back to non-whites,” said Jackson, who said he believes that institutional reparations would best benefit black people.

Many opponents of reparations argue that the current American government should not have to pay for past actions against blacks.

“The people who committed the crime are not paying, and the people who were injured are not recompensed,” said Gregory Koukl, California radio personality, according to

“If justice is that guilty people pay for their crimes and injured parties are recompensed, then there is no justice in this act (of reparations),”

Thompson disagreed.

“When people sue for damages, they are not always worried about money, but about the admittance of the damage,” he said.

Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at